My God told me last night, when we settled down for our nightly powwow, that Israel Folau is an insufferable dolt with callous disregard for those less fortunate than he is. Oh – and that the former rugby star is personally responsible for the weeds in my garden, the fact that dog poo smells and the increasing glugginess of my favourite bottle of nail polish. And spiders. He's probably responsible for them too, according to the woman upstairs.
As you can imagine, I'm fairly outraged. And so, I'm exercising my right to religious freedom to express my distaste for Mr Folau, and my hope that he will repent and reduce my gardening time forthwith.
As upset as I am, however, I won't go so far as to condemn him to hell or blame him for the raging wildfires that have caused death and destruction in Australia. My God isn't really down with such churlish behaviour, and besides, I'm not a complete dickhead.
While I may jest about the ridiculousness of Folau's latest outburst (if you missed it, he suggested that there was a link between abortion law reform and legalised marriage equality in Australia and the devastating wildfires currently ripping through New South Wales and Queensland) I'm also at a point where I wonder whether this should be news anymore. Surely no one is surprised by Folau's continued fanatical ecclesiastic ravings. With every proclamation, it's just more of the same.
The problems with Folau's rhetoric have been well covered, and I'll do my best to avoid rehashing the same tired arguments, but it's not hard to imagine that the repeated exposure to international media coverage of Folau's anti-gay comments won't be good for people who are struggling with their sexuality. Particularly young people in religious communities who are already facing misunderstanding, condemnation, and even exile.
Maybe it's time to stop giving him any airtime. When the media gets hold of one of Folau's "sermons" – which would otherwise probably be heard by only a small group of ardent followers – and broadcasts its contents to the masses, I've begun to wonder whether it's doing more harm than good.
I'm torn between the role of the media to shine a bright light in dark places to prevent bigotry from thriving in silence and isolation, and the unintended side effect of amplifying homophobic messages. I worry that magnifying Folau's views (and the backlash they inspire) will strengthen the support he enjoys from those who secretly or not-so-secretly agree with him, allow him to paint himself as the persecuted martyr and even potentially sway some people to agree with him. On the flip side, I worry that allowing his anti-gay sermons to fly under the radar could allow some unjustified rehabilitation of his public image or mean that vulnerable young gay people of faith feel that no one cares about the homophobia they face.
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You can't win either way. We're damned if we do and damned if we don't – especially those of us who Folau has suggested are damned to burn eternally in hell.
• Israel Folau preaches bushfires and drought are God's punishment for same-sex marriage and abortion
• Fiery reaction after Israel Folau links Australian bush fires to same-sex marriage
• NZ restaurant trolls Folau as Israel inadvertently donate to Rainbow Youth
• 'I knew it was going to be offensive': Israel Folau defends social media posts, would do it again
My one hope for the continued exposure Folau's comments receive is that it will lend weight to Rugby Australia's decision to sack him. If there was any doubt about Folau's inability to conduct himself in a way befitting an international rugby star, surely it has now been thoroughly dispelled. I have no idea whether Folau's most recent comments will be relevant to the case before the courts, but at least now it is abundantly clear to the public that Folau could easily jeopardise sponsorship agreements.
Now that point has been resoundingly made, however, I wonder about the value of continued Folau reportage that isn't explicitly related to his lawsuit. If we have to continue reporting Folau's latest round of whack-a-gay, I suggest that we change our approach. Instead of reporting the details of Folau's various rants, the media could instead write headlines like, "Folau makes new offensive statement", followed by short articles along the lines of "Former rugby star Israel Folau said yet another offensive thing this morning. If you want to read it, click here."
Because really, at this stage, what more could Folau say that would shock people? Isn't suggesting that the gays are at least partly to blame for deathly fires bad enough? And if – God forbid – he says something worse, I frankly don't want to know. Moreover, I don't want gay young people, or the children of gay parents to hear it. There is a point at which media outlets have to ask themselves if they're serving their audience by sharing the details of anti-gay tirades, or if they're perpetuating a circus, using homophobia to generate outrage clicks.
I fervently hope that this is the last I have to write on this subject, but, in the spirit of religious freedom, I feel duty-bound to share the message my God had for Israel last night. "Izzy," she said. "As hot as gay sex may be, it has about as much a chance of causing fires as the hot air coming out of your mouth. Read a book about climate change, son, and judge not, that ye be not judged."